Civilization (aka Genes and Memes)

Gideon Polya, “State Terrorism -"Genes and Memes" or “Civilization” Painting & the New Barbarism”:, MWC News, 16 November 2007.

For an image of the huge “Civilization” (aka “Genes and Memes”)  painting (1.3 x 2.9 metres) see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gideonpolya/4289096920/ .

State Terrorism -"Genes and Memes" or “Civilization” Painting & the New Barbarism

Man's behaviour has evolved through two major mechanisms, the Darwinian natural selection of particular Genes  (DNA-based alleles or gene variants) and the non-genetic selection and social transmission of Memes (socially-transmitted ideas and behaviours).

For a seminal account of this dual Genetic and Memetic transmission of behaviour determinants (e.g. for altruism) see Professor Richard Dawkins' book "The Selfish Gene" (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1976).

To illustrate this dichotomy I have painted a huge painting called “Civilization” or "Genes and Memes", of which more later. In short, running through the painting are images of the DNA double helix (the molecular basis of our genes) and of the Memetic evolution of human behaviour from first steps and thence animalistic abandon to violent warfare and thence introspective consciousness of, for example, the nakedness of Ourselves and of Others.

Darwinian selection at the genetic level involves mutation yielding variant forms of particular genes (alleles). If particular gene variants (alleles) confer a "selective advantage" for survival to reproduction age then "Nature red in tooth and claw" ensures the evolutionary selection of such genes. Thus alleles contributing to human altruism towards infants will be selected for if such altruism promotes survival of the carriers to reproductive age. This sort of evolution is at the level of Genes that are constructed chemically of DNA molecules.

In contrast, human behaviour can be selected for by non-genetic mechanisms involving the social selection of ideas or behaviours (Memes) that contribute to societal survival. Thus ideas such as "thou shalt not kill" and "love thy neighbour as thyself" are very useful  socially and minimize internecine strife. Such Memetic selection of human behaviour is clearly very important.

However whether it is hard-wired, DNA-based, gene-based altruism or the brotherly love Memes that are passed to us orally or in the written word, there is a tussle between greed and self-preservation on the one hand (our most basic animal instincts) and genetic or memetic altruism on the other. Further, when it comes to altruism in primates the care we offer to others diminishes markedly as we go from our immediate family group to more distant social groupings.

Thus our close cousins  the chimpanzees (with 99% genetic identity ourselves) show great altruism towards their infants and other members of their tribe but can commit horrendous atrocities on "foreign" chimpanzee interlopers (e.g. pulling off their arms and legs and leaving them to die as a dire warning to others straying into the tribal territory).

We see this same decline in human altruism as we go from family to distant foreigners. Thus I have recently published a huge book entitled "Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950" (G.M. Polya, Melbourne) that details the terrible impact of "foreign occupation" or "foreign hegemony" on excess deaths (avoidable deaths, avoidable mortality, deaths that should not have happened) in subjugated countries.

When we consider 1950-2005 excess mortality in the world it steadily increases as we go from the "best case" countries of Overseas Europe (the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Israel - countries that have never been invaded but which have a sustained and continuing record of invading and occupying other countries) to the "worst case" countries (that have typically never invaded and occupied other countries but which have been subject to centuries of brutal and often genocidal violence from European countries or Japan).

Without being immersed in the detailed history,  the modestly informed general reader  can see this for himself/herself by considering the RATIO of 1950-2005 excess deaths to the 2005 population expressed as a percentage (%)  for the major regions of the world, from "good outcome" to "worst outcome":  Overseas Europe (2.7%), Western Europe (5.0%),   Eastern Europe (7.6%), Latin America and Caribbean (9.4%), East Asia (10.9%), Central Asia Iran and Turkey (20.7%), Arab North Africa and Middle East (23.0%), South East Asian (25.1%), Pacific islands (27.3%), South Asia (31.9%), and Non-Arab Africa (43.2%).

Formally non-racist, typically highly educated, prosperous, ostensibly "democratic" and free speech-observant Western countries have a moral blind spot about what they have done to Indigenous people of occupied countries in the past and indeed what they are doing at this very moment.

This selective amnesia is best illustrated by Western understanding of World War 2 atrocities. Thus Westerners are universally aware of the Jewish Holocaust (6 million victims) but are much less aware of the Holocaust in general in Eastern Europe (some 30 million Russian, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Polish, Byelorussian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Bosnian and Slovakian victims) or of the horrendous Japanese crimes in China (35 million Chinese war dead).

Perhaps only 1% of Westerners in my experience as a lecturer on the subject are even aware of the World War 2 Bengali Holocaust, the man-made Bengal Famine in British India (4 million victims; associated with horrendous sexual abuse of starving women and girls and a 1940s Bengal demographic deficit of over 10 million; possibly due to a deliberate British "scorched earth policy" to forestall Japanese invasion from Burma; and , of course, almost completely rubbed out of British history and from general public perception) (see my book "Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History. Colonial rapacity, holocaust denial and the crisis in biological sustainability":

Similarly, Western countries complicit in the horrendous, ongoing US and Apartheid Israel Asian wars have populations that - thanks to lying, racist Mainstream media, academics and  politicians - are generally unaware of the horrendous human cost of the ongoing Palestinian Genocide, Iraqi Genocide and Afghan Genocide (post-invasion excess deaths 0.3 million, 2.0 million and 6.0 million, respectively; post-invasion under-5 infant deaths 0.2 million, 0.6 million and 2.2 million, respectively; and refugees totaling 7 million, 4 million and 3.7 million, respectively).

While Westerners generally appreciated the importance of national independence and self-determination in the 1970s, this anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist position has been steadily eroded by the example of Apartheid Israel's abusive confinement of (presently 4 million) Occupied Palestinians in an increasingly abusive Concentration Camp for over 40 years and the poisonous virulence of the traitorous Racist Zionist (RZ) Lobbies who cry "anti-semitism" when any decent anti-racist humanitarian Jew or non-Jew voices any objection. Indeed the once-liberal, post-Enlightenment West has now degenerated to a horrible Mainstream position of horrendous holocaust commission under the aegis of US State Terrorism jn a swathe of countries including Haiti, Somalia, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

This Western holocaust commission and genocide commission is coupled with holocaust denial,  holocaust ignoring, genocide denial and genocide denial. We have indeed entered into a New Barbarism informed by and exampled by racist, genocidal US State Terrorism (USST), UK-US State terrorism (UKUSST), Israeli State Terrorism (ISST) and US-Israeli State Terrorism (USIST).

"Memes and Genes" sums up where we have come to in the Genetic and Memetic Evolution of Man's Sense and Sensibility. This HUGE acrylic painting (1.3 meters x 2.9 meters) has a central DNA double helix motif indicative of the genetic hard-wiring evolution of Genes. However a 4 seasons motif indicative of Youth (Spring), Maturation (Summer), Acquisition (Autumn) and Introspection (Winter) illustrates (albeit somewhat disingenuously)  our Memetic Evolution through successive stages of Arising (Youth), Wild Abandon (Maturation), Violence (War and Acquisition) and Consciousness of our Nakedness and that of Others (a metaphor for the empathic introspection of Ourselves and of the Other that is required of decent, civilized Humanity according to News' wonderful correspondent Professor Walter Davis in his book "Death's Dream Kingdom.

Unfortunately the Humanitarian Nirvana promised by the 18th century European Enlightenment (and indeed achieved domestically in many prosperous countries) has been reversed by the horrendous violence of the Racist Zionists and Racist Bush-ites in recent decades. A simple Google Search  today on the Web reveals 163,000 hits for the obscene phrase "nuke Iran"  and 675,000 URLs for the phrase "bomb Iran" – Iran being a peaceful, remote, democratic, NPT-signatory , NPT-observant, IAEA-complicit, anti-racism and anti-nuclear weapons country of 70 million people, half of them Children and three quarters of them Women and Children.

What happened to the Memes "thou shalt not kill Children" and "thou shalt not kill Women" or indeed "thou shalt not kill?" Do not despair – spread the message of hope, of zero tolerance for racism and violence. Perhaps this glowing painting "Genes and Memes" - involving a conflation of Medieval  Islamic, Renaissance Christian, ancient Indigenous cultures and modern Abstract Expressionism traditions or "Memes" - can help achieve Peace and Amity where words have failed. Help spread this Meme for Love and Peace and link this "Genes and Memes" image to everyone you can. 

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